Narrative Writing Part 2: Observation Diaries, Logs, and Autobiographical Incidents

In this class, students will observe and narrate changes in the sequence of specific events and practice the compositional skills of transitional words and combining sentences.

Narrative Writing Part 2: Observation Diaries, Logs, and Autobiographical Incidents

In this class, students will observe and narrate changes in the sequence of specific events and practice the compositional skills of transitional words and combining sentences.
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About the Class

This class is held in three one-hour sessions. The first session begins with instruction on the importance of observation diaries and the importance of using precise nouns in writing. The second session focuses on the use of event logs to track and report important events and strategies for combining sentences in writing. The third session provides students with guided practice on writing a short autobiography about a memorable autobiographical event using comparisons to clarify their writing.

The materials needed for this class include a note-taking journal, a dictionary or thesaurus, and a writing folder. These materials may be physical or digital. 

Day 1: Observation Diaries and Precise Nouns

  • Objective 1: Students will be encouraged to observe changes or sequences of events and to narrate them in a structured way.
  • Objective 2: Students will identify a precise noun as a word that provides a word picture so the reader understands the exact meaning of what the writer is stating.

Compositional Skills: Transitional words and combining sentences.

Activities:

  1. Personal introductions.
  2. A course introduction will be provided based on the course objectives.
  3. Observation diary introduction: An observation diary is used by a writer to record notes briefly about a selected object or nonhuman subject from their environment over a two- or three-day period. The writer is specifically noting what happens to the object and how it changes over time.
  4. A sample of an observation diary will be provided for students to examine
  5. The students will brainstorm a list of objects or animals they might observe. Then, choose an item from the list to write about in an observation journal.
  6. Next, the students write a brief paragraph that narrates in sequence the events they observed. When complete, the paragraphs will be shared with the class for the purpose of obtaining suggestions for revisions
  7. After sharing the observational paragraphs, the students will make revisions and share their final drafts.
  8. When final drafts have been shared, the students will begin working on compositional skills starting with precise nouns. Precise nouns will be defined as words that create a word picture to help the reader understand better the written message.
  9. Examples of precise nouns and their use will be provided followed by guided and independent practice using precise nouns in student writing. 

Day 2: Using Event Logs and Combining Sentences

  1. Objective 1: Students will be encouraged to focus on exactly what they find out about a subject and then narrate their findings in sequence using an event log.
  2. Objective 2: Students will learn that an effective way to build a big idea is to combine it with supporting ideas to make one sentence.

Activities:

  1. The lesson introduction will include a review of the objectives and a discussion about the differences between keeping an observation diary and an event log.
  2. After defining an event log, an example using the events of an approaching hurricane will be provided for students to review and discuss.
  3. Next, the teacher will model for the students how to use the events in the log to write a descriptive paragraph of the events. 
  4. After examining the sample event log and descriptive paragraph, students will work together to create a list of subjects that use regular log entries to track events over a week or two. Then, individually, they will choose one subject from the list and create a log notebook with entries entered at regular intervals of time. Each entry should begin with a time or date stamp of when the event occurred. When complete students will share and discuss their logs with the class.
  5. The students will next use their logs to write a paragraph that describes the events from their event logs. When complete the paragraphs will be shared and discussed in class.  
  6. After paragraphs have been shared and discussed students will begin practice on the compositional skill of combining sentences. Examples will be provided and students will be offered opportunities for guided and independent practice.
  7. Closure: The students will explain how a log is used to document event activities and the process of combining sentences to build a big idea.

Day 3: Autobiographical Incidents

  • Objective 1: Students will examine a personal experience and discover what they’ve learned from it.
  • Objective 2: Students will make comparisons that explain how one thing is like another thing.

Activities:

  1. The definition of an autobiographical incident and an example will be provided for the students to review and discuss.
  2. Next, students will brainstorm autobiographical incidents from their personal life then select one for writing.
  3. After the students select an autobiographical incident to write about, they will share their topic and the events that make it memorable for them.
  4. When the autobiographical incidents have been completed, the students will share their writing with the class.
  5. Putting their autobiographical incidents aside, the students will now focus on the use of the composition skill of making comparisons.
  6. The teacher will provide comparison examples and guide the students through some comparison exercises.
  7. Next, the students will review their autobiographical incidents to determine if there is any place where comparisons could be added to enhance their writing. When complete, the students will share their findings.
  8. Closure/evaluation:

Objective 1: What is important learning you received from writing an autobiographical incident?
Objective 2: How do comparisons add clarity to our writing?

Requirements

Prerequisite: Narrative Writing Part 1: Three Types of Journal Entries

Teacher

Dr. Debra Harper, Ed.D.

Professional Educator
Greetings!  I am Dr. Debra Harper, Ed.D. My specialty areas of teaching are English language arts, beginning, intermediate, and secondary reading skills, beginning, intermediate, and secondary writing instruction, study skills, technology integration, history, and social studies. My teaching credentials include  •    a bachelor’s degree in...

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Additional Details

Language: English
Level: Intermediate
Skills: Writing Autobiographies, Journaling Strategies, Keeping Logs, Composition Skills, Keeping Diaries
Age groups: 12-17 years

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